Environmental groups aim to improve water quality

LAKE GEORGE The three leading environmental non-profit groups working to protect Lake George have signed a formal agreement to work together on a major project aimed at improving the water quality of Lake George. The executive directors of the Fund for Lake George, the Lake George Association (LGA) and the Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) signed the agreement as part of recent efforts to acquire the former Gaslight Village property and to use that land to capture and treat stormwater runoff coming from Route 9 in Lake George. The environmental groups have been working with officials from the Town and the Village of Lake George and Warren County to purchase the property from the Charles R. Wood Foundation. West Brook bisects the property before entering into Lake George. Several studies have identified the West Brook watershed, which receives runoff from Route 9 and I-87, as the single biggest contributor of non-point source pollution in Lake Georges southern basin. According to Walt Lender, LGA executive director, The West Brook watershed acts as a giant funnel for all of the runoff, the pollutants and the sediment, coming off of Route 9, including all of the parking lots of the hotels, restaurants and gas stations. It all passes through the Gaslight Village property on its way to the lake. This location is where we can really make a difference. Chris Ballantyne, executive director of the Fund for Lake George, explained the purpose of the joint agreement and why the three groups felt it was necessary. This is a huge project, which will have lasting benefits for Lake George and the community, he said. A tremendous amount of cooperation will be required in order to be successful. This agreement is a pledge that, collectively, we feel that it is our responsibility to make sure that this project is as successful and effective as it can be. Nancy Williams, executive director of the Lake George Land Conservancy, points out the wide range of benefits to be gained from the West Brook Project. Open space is a priceless commodity in the southern basin, particularly along the shoreline, she said. While we are restoring wetlands to filter out pollutants, we will also be restoring wildlife habitat and fisheries, as well as restoring the stream corridor to its more natural state. We fully expect this project to be a beautiful spot for people to enjoy the natural beauty and to learn about the importance of conservation. It will be a great gift for future generations. The joint agreement defines the three groups role in developing, designing and implementing the environmental part of the project, eventually making arrangements for easements and for the management of the 12-acre property. The three environmental groups and the three governmental groups have been working together on this project for well over a year, said Lender. This formal agreement is a statement to the lake community of our firm commitment to this project, and it will serve as a reminder to ourselves to stay on task until we achieve our shared vision.

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